A Christmas Carol
Madison holiday season celebrations abound this weekend, with productions of A Christmas Carol, Tidings from the Seasonally Affected, and Dance Wisconsin's Nutcracker Fantasy, as well as performances by the WCO, Tom Wopat, the Madison Area Concert Handbells, the UW Choral Union & Chamber Orchestra, the Festival Choir of Madison, and Bela Fleck & the Flecktones with Alash Ensemble. And don't forget the Mad Rollin' Dolls Holiday Bout. The calendar also includes: book readings by Dean Bakopoulos and Benjamin Percy, David Sakrison, Lewis Koch, and Kirsten Johnson; performances of Grease and abridged Shakespeare; the Art Pedaler show, the Found Footage Festival, the Rainbow Bookstore 20th anniversary party, and the Last Day of Class Mustache Bash; and, more live music from James Otto and Jimmy Wayne, Taylor Hicks, Smoking Popes, Shooter Grey Suede, The Alpha Centauri, Sarah Jane's Army, Pezzettino, Headlights, Steve Aoki, and Blueheels.
NOTEWORTHY: Ivana Trump divorces The Donald, 1990.
BIRTHDAYS: Filmmaker Susan Seidelman, 1952; rapper/actor Mos Def, 1973.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7 pm. Also Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 12 & 13, 2 pm
You've seen countless stage and screen adaptations of Dickens' classic Yuletide yarn, but here's an excellent reason to see the Children's Theater of Madison production: It stars, as Scrooge, one of the finest stage actors in the region, American Players Theatre's James Ridge.
Overture Center's Wisconsin Studio, 7 pm
Get to know these two fiction authors, who are reading from their work. Both teach writing at Iowa State, and both have forthcoming novels in the works, and till lately Bakopoulos was based here.
Blackhawk Evangelical Church, Verona, 7 pm
When you think evangelical Christianity you don't necessarily think Baroque music, but the enormous Blackhawk atrium is the site for the WCO's rendition of Handel's iconic, ecstatic holiday favorite just the same.
Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 pm
Wisconsin is proud to claim stage and screen star Wopat, who tonight presents a performance called "Home for the Holidays.
Asbury United Methodist Church, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (First Congregational United Church of Christ, 3 pm), Dec. 12 & 13
The ensemble turns bells into an expressive instrument, jingling an amazing array of handbells and chimes. This is a holiday-themed concert.
Overture Center's Playhouse, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (2 & 8 pm), Sunday (2 pm), and Tuesday-Thursday (7:30 pm), Dec. 10, 12, 13 & 15-17
The Reduced Shakespeare Company offer a long run of their classic comic mash-up of the Bard's works. We don't know how they can keep up the manic energy level for all these performances, but they're pulling it off beautifully.
Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Thursday (7:30 pm), Saturday (2 & 8 pm) & Sunday (1 & 6:30 pm), Dec. 10, 12 & 13
The touring musical starring American Idol's Taylor Hicks and Ace Young continues its run.
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Thursday, Dec. 10, 8 pm
Encore Studio presents this locally written seriocomedy about a woman spending her first holiday season outside of an institution. The play is more about character studies than a jam-packed plot.
UW Humanities Building Mills Hall, 8 pm. Also Thursday, Dec. 10, 7:30 pm
The combined ensembles give the deluxe treatment to Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms" and Haydn's "Missa Cellensis," plus motets by Rachmaninoff and Chesnokov.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Yearning for some Hall & Oates? Jimmy Wayne's chart-topper "Sara Smile," recorded with the celebrated rock-and-soul duo, is as close as you're likely to get this weekend. Fellow country singer-songwriter James Otto will top off the evening with the cream of his 2008 release, Sunset Man, and a glimpse at his self-titled 2010 album. Also playing: The Pat Watters Band.
High Noon Saloon, 9:30 pm
If you like the American Idol winner's performance in Grease (see above), you can't go wrong joining the Soul Patrol for an evening of blues- and R&B-influenced originals from Hicks' second major-label release, The Distance. Mark Harrod opens.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
Though they've been rocking together for 18 years, the Chicagoland pop-punk band have aged well, crafting a winning formula from a love of Elvis Costello, a connection to Ben Weasel and tours with Jimmy Eat World, Jawbreaker and Morrissey. Also playing: Blackwell Beauties.
Frequency, 10 pm
This go-to band for the modern dancers and avant-garde theater companies of Chicago has emerged from a three-year hiatus with a crop of new songs featuring improvisational guitar that'll wow you with its energy and inventiveness. With Kitty Rhombus, Zebras and Shane Shane.
NOTEWORTHY: Cindy Crawford marries Richard Gere, 1991.
BIRTHDAYS: Prince protege/singer/drummer Sheila Escovedo, 1959; actress Jennifer Connelly, 1970.
University Book Store-Hilldale, 1 pm
The author signs Postcard History of Madison, which explores the city's past in vintage cards.
Rainbow Bookstore, 2 pm
The Madison-based, internationally recognized photoessayist discusses his new book, Touchless Automatic Wonder, which captures found texts in signs and inscriptions.
First Baptist Church, 3 & 7:30 pm
The local ensemble salutes the holidays with a concert called "Stories to Share," with readings by Wisconsin Public Radio broadcasters Jim Fleming and Vicki Nonn.
Frequency, 5:30 pm
This Twin Cities group makes prog that fits well with the celestial indie rock of Crane Your Swan Neck and Icarus Himself, both of which are also performing tonight. Its music can also suggest the sonic comets of bands like Coheed & Cambria and the Mars Volta.
Coliseum Bar, 6 pm
Whiskey Lash All-Stars, Yokanizu Project, the Cosmonauts and Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies perform at this benefit for Madisonian Sarah Jane Tweed, who is pregnant and has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Revolution Cycles, 7 pm
A show of cycling-themed art (see Art).
Orpheum Theatre, 7 & 9
Stoughtonites Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett stop by with this touring production of clips from terrible VHS recordings accompanied by terribly witty commentary (see Movies).
Fast Forward Skate, 7 pm
The roller derby league moved to more spacious quarters at the Alliant Energy Center, but tonight it returns to its old home for exhibition fun.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday, Dec. 13, 2 pm
Jo Jean Retrum leads her talented Dance Wisconsin through an adaptation of the Nutcracker story, in which a girl searches for the missing Sugar Plum Doll. The production takes Tchaikovsky as a starting point and employs a live orchestra plus Monona Grove High School singers. Guest dancers are Sascha Radetsky and Stella Abrera from American Ballet Theatre.
Project Lodge, 7:30 pm
The accordion- and piano-playing indie-folk songstress from Milwaukee stops by with her new 7-inch as she embarks on a tour of Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa. With Shane Shane.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
Champaign, Ill.'s Headlights make origami out of pop music, folding it into indie folk at one moment and throwbacks to '60s girl groups the next. They'll be joined by Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Cavalier Rose, who scored a gig at the sought-after Pianos bar in New York and a recording session at the Daytrotter Horseshack within months of forming. Read more about Headlights and their new album, Wildlife, in this week's Tour Stop.
Majestic Theatre, 10 pm
It's hard to say what DJ and producer Steve Aoki hasn't done. He founded Dim Mak records, which helped Bloc Party, the Gossip and MSTRKRFT rise to fame. He's remixed songs by Bloc Party, Duran Duran, Peaches and Michael Jackson. He owns a Korean barbecue restaurant with the Strokes' Julian Casablancas. Despite all of this, he's cut only one album of his own, 2008's Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles. Hear it live and find out what he's up to next.
High Noon Saloon, 10 pm
Get funky as you finish your finals -- or your Christmas shopping -- with the electronic "creepfunk" of Steez, the funky reggae and hip-hop of Chafo, and the danceable bluegrass of SweetGrass.
NOTEWORTHY: Al Gore concedes defeat to Dubya, 2000.
BIRTHDAYS: Actor/comedian Jamie Foxx, 1967.
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
The Madison author discusses Footsteps, her novel of HIV/AIDS, female circumcision and other ills in Kenya.
Harmony Bar, 5:30 pm
Jim Schwall and Bonobo Secret Handshake perform at the platinum celebration of the local lefty redoubt.
Orpheum Theatre, 7:30 pm
Fleck's bluegrass-meets-jazz-fusion favorite teams up with the fantastic Tuvan throat-singing group featured on last year's Grammy-winning Christmas album Jingle All the Way. They'll celebrate holiday traditions from around the world and some of Fleck's greatest hits.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm
Forget six geese a-laying. Usher in the holiday season, Americana-style, with six great music acts a-playing: Blueheels, Jeremiah Nelson & the Achilles Heel, Jentri Colello's Flight, Blake Thomas, Josh Harty and John Statz.